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Some over share on topic of illnesses

Wed., Sept. 5, 2012

DEAR MISS MANNERS: Why do people feel that I have a need to know what is going on in either their or their spouses’ underwear?!

I have a friend whose husband has prostate cancer. I sympathize, but I do not need to know that he cannot urinate, or the color of his urination, or if there is blood. I was at a party recently when the hostess pulled me aside and told me about the color of her husband’s urine.

I do not need to know if your husband is required to wear a truss, or anything else going on in his underwear.

What do you say? My feelings are, if something is going on in your pants, I do not need to know!

GENTLE READER: And why don’t they just post it on the Internet and be done with it?

Wait, they probably do.

Miss Manners remembers when cancer of any type was considered unmentionable. Obituaries stated that the person had died “after a long illness.” (Nowadays, it is “after losing a battle with …” as if it were the deceased’s fault for not having fought hard enough.)

Certainly it was good to stop treating a disease as if it were shameful. Bringing it out in the open had the enormous benefit of allowing sufferers and their caretakers to identify one another, and provide comfort, assistance and information.

But it also loosened the ready tongues of those who simply like to talk about their and other people’s illnesses. The way to put a stop to this is to say: “I’m awfully sorry about your husband and please give him my best. But I should tell you that I’m terribly squeamish. You wouldn’t want to have to look after me if this made me feel faint.”


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